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Sturgeon Week Features

Fishing WisconsinWinnebago System sturgeon spearing 2018

Big fish to date

Benjamin Berger's opening day fish weighing 155.6 pounds and measuring 75.6 inches. This is the heaviest fish harvested from the Winnebago System since the 2014 spearing season!

It's on - February 15, 2018

Today’s harvest from Lake Winnebago included 33 fish.  The south end continues to produce the best with Wendt’s (11 fish), Calumet Harbor (8 fish), and Jerry’s Bar (6) registering the most fish.  The north shore stations have been very slow with Waverly Beach, Stockbridge Harbor, and Payne’s Point combining to register only 4 fish. 

The big fish today was 131.4 pounds, 77.0” and registered at Wendt’s by Nicholas Ludvigsen.  I had a chance to talk to Nicholas and his uncle today and this was truly a special fish for their family.  Nicholas’s grandfather Jody Ludvigsen passed away in September of last year.  Jody was a passionate sturgeon spearer and when he passed the family decided to have him cremated.  Further, his ashes were incorporated into sturgeon decoys for family members to have and celebrate Jody’s memory.  Nicholas’s fish was the largest fish ever speared by a family member, and I’m sure that his grandfather is proudly smiling down today.  

I want to again thank all of the successful spearers that have donated their sturgeon heads thus far this season.  We removed the otoliths from 54 sturgeon heads on Monday and as we processed another 150-160 heads today. We would not be able to collect the data we do without the support of spearers.    

--- Ryan Koenigs, Oshkosh

Wisconsin Department of Natural Resource conservation wardens have received and answered a lot of questions leading up to this year’s spearing season. Wardens wish to remind sturgeon spearers of the following often asked questions about regulations regarding tags and registration.

Spearers are required to be in possession of their paper license/ tags while spearing. Immediately upon harvest, successful spearers must validate their tags by removing the validation stub from their tag by cutting or tearing at the dotted line. The sturgeon carcass tag is only required to be attached to the sturgeon if the successful spearer leaves the sturgeon prior to registration. It is also illegal to possess more than one sturgeon carcass tag or the tag of another while spearing.

In person registration is still required. Successful spearers have until 2:00PM the day of harvest to register their sturgeon. There is no online or call in registration for lake sturgeon.

--- Chris Shea, Lake Winnebago Team Warden Supervisor

Lake Winnebago system sturgeon spearing regulations 2018

The 2018 Lake Winnebago System Sturgeon Spearing Regulations [PDF]

2018 Lake Winnebago - season totals

Daily harvest Season harvest Harvest cap
Juvenile females 2 18 344
Adult females 15 138 855
Males 16 130 960
Totals 33 286 -

2018 Upriver Lakes - Season closed February 13

Daily harvest Season harvest Harvest cap
Juvenile females 4


Adult females 11


Males 17 178 240


297 -

Daily harvest - February 15, 2018

Winnebago system daily harvest report [PDF]

2017 Winnebago system sturgeon season summary reports

Tagging your sturgeon

What you need to know [PDF]

2016 Winnebago system sturgeon vignettes

Sturgeon shanty rentals

If you or someone you know rents shanties for the spearing season on Lake Winnebago and/or the Upriver Lakes, please send the contact information to Ryan Koenigs. Shanty rental information is very popular (and helpful) to first-time sturgeon spearers.

Sturgeon license sales for 2017 season

Interest in sturgeon spearing continues to be strong with 12,962 licenses sold for the 2017 season, including 12,479 for Lake Winnebago and 483 for the Upriver Lakes.

History of the Upriver Lakes sturgeon spear fishery and trends in the modern era

More information about the history of the Upriver Lakes spear fishery can be viewed in the document History of the Upriver Lakes Sturgeon Spear Fishery and Trends in the Modern Era. [PDF]

2015 sturgeon spearing season summaries

Sturgeon spearing culture

The ice-fishing season for lake sturgeon is more about getting together and fishing together than harvesting a lunker.

Sturgeon guard

There are two critical time periods for collecting data from our sturgeon population, the annual spearing season and spring spawning assessments.  Each year thousands of lake sturgeon migrate up the tributaries of the Winnebago System (Wolf, upper Fox, Embarrass and Little Wolf Rivers most notably) to spawn. The sturgeon spawn along rocky shorelines on outside river bends and literally spawn at your feet.  This provides a great opportunity to view sturgeon spawning in the wild, which is an experience not available anywhere else in North America.  However, poaching has historically been a concern given the vulnerability of these majestic fish during spawning.  The Sturgeon Guard program was implemented to curtail the illegal activity and protect these fish during spawning periods.  At first, law enforcement officers would monitor known spawning sites, but it was difficult for the warden staff to cover all of the known spawning areas with a limited work force.  The Sturgeon Guard program then went public and the rest is history.  The general public can now sign up for 12-hour shifts to watch sturgeon spawn and protect the fish from harassment and other illegal activity.  There are hundreds of folks who sign up every year for this opportunity, and this really is an example of a successful collaboration between the community and the DNR that has helped the population significantly increase!  As the spearing season draws near the end, I thought it would be beneficial to highlight a potential next opportunity for folks interested in sturgeon and that opportunity is volunteering through the Sturgeon Guard program.

Contact information
For more information, please contact:
Karl Scheidegger
Fisheries biologist
Last revised: Friday February 16 2018